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What is a Jump Cut?

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 4/19/2010

Learn how angling the camera or changing the editing can make or break a jump cut.

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    Camera Angles and Perspective

    Perspective for the audience is an important consideration that should echo down from the Director to the Director of Photographer to the Script Supervisor. When using coverage to set up a scene you will look at it from several angles. To do this effectively you have to change the perspective between each of these angles as much as you possibly can. If you do not shift the angle enough then you are going to induce a jump cut.

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    The Jump Cut

    A jump cut happens when two shots are paired up together in editing that are not far enough apart in terms of the angle they are shot on. When you are looking at a video image from a single angle and then you shift just slightly away and present essentially the same image what happens is a "jump" of sorts where the images do not match. No angles match each other, but when the angle is significantly different enough this is fine for the audience. When the angles are very close, however, this is very jarring and obvious.

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    Avoiding the Jump Cut

    To avoid creating a jump cut in video production you can just ensure that your camera angles are at least thirty degrees apart from each other when using medium to long shots. This will make sure that each shot is significantly different enough not to have any approximation, therefore reducing the chance that the jump will occur. When editing the video piece you can also avoid this happening by noting any takes that are similar in angle but not identical. You can then make sure that they will never be placed next to each other, and in the best case scenario as far apart from each other as you can. This will make sure that the style remains fairly invisible and will allow the audience to focus in on the story space instead of the technical details of your video production.

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    Executing a Jump Cut in Video Production

    A jump cut can also be a stylistic choice that many filmmakers like to use during video production. This can often have a jarring effect that can convey confusion, disorientation, intensity, disassociation, and a variety of other effects to the audience. This is done purposely often and is usually directed for this purpose during production. To do this the Director of Photography and Director will orchestrate several takes with similar angles so that when the editing happens there is no choice but to use the jump cuts. This can also be coordinated to work with the breaking of the 180 degree rule and the warping of the Z-axis for more disorienting effects. A jump cut can also be achieved in this way by taking long takes and cutting out segments. For example, if you have a very long take of a person getting out of their car and walking into their house and you cut out two seconds every second then you will achieve a choppy series of jump cuts that can convey the same thing.

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    Film Coverage

    In standard film coverage jump cuts need to be avoided. This is often done by focusing in on the standard master shot to medium shot to close up set up that is standard for two to three person scenes, as dictated by film coverage. Try to plot out the area ahead of time to make sure that you can get sufficiently different angles in the space you have.